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Room, Emma Donoghue

2011/05/27

This book has been on my “to-read” list for quite a while, and as the list of awards and accolades grew, I decided I really needed to pick it up.

Jack is an intelligent and perceptive five-year-old boy being raised by a single mother. Nothing extraordinary about that — except for the fact that they are imprisoned in a garden shed which they call “Room.” Jack and his mother live as normally as possible within the confines of Room, giving names to inanimate objects like Bed and Rug, exercising by running laps around Room, making crafts like an eggshell snake, cleaning and cooking. Occasionally there are nighttime visits from “Old Nick,” who brings them supplies and “makes the bed creak.” As time progresses, Jack’s mother begins to reveal to him the existence of a world outside Room — concepts which are understandably difficult for him to understand. And soon, she is telling him about her plan to break out of Room — to go Outside. But that is only the beginning of the challenges for Jack.

The book is narrated by a young boy, which is a perspective not often employed in fiction. I also appreciated the author’s portrayal the repercussions of confinement and freedom on the development of the young boy and his mother, as well as the reaction of the media to the case. Although marketed as a novel for adults, I can definitely see appeal for the young adult reader, especially those who enjoyed books like Elizabeth Scott’s “Living Dead Girl” and other dramatic crime fiction. It was a quick read for me, and though I enjoyed the book, it won’t be one that I return to again.

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